Filed Under Barrington

Kinnicutt Tavern

The Last Tavern Building Still Standing

The sole remaining vestige of Old Barrington Village's tavern-friendly past stands at 509 County Road. This c. 1840 Greek Revival style structure first saw life as the Kinnicutt Tavern, owned and operated by George R. Kinnicutt who followed in the steps of his father.

Around 1840, the structure at 509 County Road became the second public house to be called "Kinnicutt Tavern," and the fourth tavern operated in Old Barrington Village near the meetinghouse, after the Green Bush, Bowen Tavern, and first Kinnicutt Tavern.

Roughly 50 years earlier, in October of 1796, George's father Josiah Kinnicutt purchased the former home of Isaac Ormsbee, located 'about one-fourth of a mile north of the Cong. meeting-house.' At the time of the purchase, Josiah's occupation was recorded as cabinet maker.

A few years earlier (1787), Josiah had married Rebecca Townsend--daughter of the long-serving Congregational Minister, Rev. Solomon Townsend. Solomon Townsend, Jr. (Rebecca's brother and Josiah's brother-in-law) is said to have owned and operated a tavern around that time at Happy Hollow, an area just south of the present-day Barrington Town Hall. Perhaps it was the Townsend family influence that lead Josiah to offer the new family home as the first 'Kinnicutt Tavern?'

After the first post route through Barrington was established in 1810, Josiah Kinnicutt was appointed as postmaster of the town. The post office was then conveniently located in his Kinnicutt Tavern. Josiah could never be accused of laziness. For in addition to his roles as tavern keeper and postmaster, he also operated a stage-coach line between Newport and Providence, provided the town's official hearse service, served on the town's 'Committee to lay out the new burying grounds at Prince's Hill', and served as the town's representative to the Rhode Island General Assembly.

The exact location of the first Kinnicutt Tavern is not known for certain. But it likely stood somewhere on or near the same spot as Benson Bean's Grocery Store--between the second Kinnicutt Tavern later operated by Josiah's son George, and the home of Samuel Allen at 499 County Road. Upon his death in 1837, Josiah's son George took over as stage-coach operator, postmaster, and later--around 1840--as tavern keeper of the second 'Kinnicutt Tavern'.

It is uncertain how long this last tavern survived. It most likely ceased to operate by 1852, after the Temperance Movement succeeded in promoting passage of the so called 'Maine Law,' which 'banned the sale and consumption of spirits' throughout Rhode Island. It would be another 150 years before alcohol was, once again, legally sold in Barrington.

Images

Kinnicutt Tavern Building (Private Residence)
Kinnicutt Tavern Building (Private Residence) This 2019 photograph is of the building (c.1840) where George Kinnicutt had the second of two Kinnicutt Taverns. The building also served as a stagecoach stop and the local post office. The first Kinnicutt Tavern, operated by George's father Josiah, is believed to have been just to the south, further down County Road. Date: 2019
Josiah Kinnicutt Headstone
Josiah Kinnicutt Headstone Located in Prince's Hill Cemetery, this headstone marks the resting place of Josiah Kinnicutt, Esq., proprietor of the first Kinnicutt Tavern. Josiah died in 1838 at the age of 73. Josiah was married to Rebecca Townsend, daughter of the Reverend Solomon Townsend. Their son George became proprietor of the second Kinnicutt Tavern. Date: 2019
Benson Bean's Store and Samuel Allen's House
Benson Bean's Store and Samuel Allen's House This 1940 image of County Road includes Benson Bean's store in the forefront, located on or near the former location of Josiah Kinnicutt's Tavern. Next to the store is the home of Samuel Allen, statesman and frequent patron of Bowen's Tavern. The bridge in the background--built in 1894 to replace the ferry--leads to the meetinghouse (hidden) to the right. Date: 1940
Benson Bean
Benson Bean This 1870 image shows Mr. Benson Bean standing on the front porch of his Grocery Store, located on or near the former location of Josiah Kinnicutt's Tavern. The store was located across the road from Bowen's Tavern. Date: 1870
Samuel Allen House (Private Residence)
Samuel Allen House (Private Residence) This 2019 photograph is of the home of Samuel Allen (1746-1810)--originally built in 1730 and expanded in 1938. It is located at 499 County Road, just south of the Kinnicutt Tavern(s) and just across the road from Bowen's Tavern. In addition to being a frequent Tavern patron, Samuel was a member of both the Town Council and State Legislature and a delegate to the Continental Congress who voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1790. Like other prominent Rhode Island figures at that time, Allen was a slave owner. Date: 2019

Location

509 County Road, Barrington, RI 02806

Metadata

Stephen Venuti, “Kinnicutt Tavern,” Rhode Tour, accessed February 24, 2024, https://rhodetour.org/items/show/362.